Thread: Aikido Frauds
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Old 12-22-2004, 10:58 AM   #65
Jorge Garcia
Dojo: Shudokan School of Aikido
Location: Houston
Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 608
Re: Aikido Frauds

John Riggs wrote:
Interesting idea Rob but getting different organizations to agree on a standard is a problem. The instructor quality issue should be left in my opinion to the organization. If there is a bad or abusive instructor as David suggests, the organization has a responsibility to fix that problem. People are people.

So, here are some thoughts as I ponder this:
1. We could come up with a list of what generally identifies a legitimate aikido background/instructor and publicize it in our respective areas.
2. Re-implement dojo raids or challenges-too many legal issues here.
3. Hope the frauds get found out and just go away. Some get caught in their lies when their egos run away and get publicly exposed. Unfortunately, not enough of them.
4. See if their is a way to get the Ueshiba family to copyright the term "Aikido" and then sue everyone who is not authorized to use it.
5. Encourage these frauds to rename their art excluding the word Aikido (I could go with this one).

Regarding number 1. Here are some thoughts on screening criteria for a legitimate aikidoka/instructor.
1. Must be certified/ranked at all levels by a recognized aikido organization that split off from the Ueshiba family and can trace a lineage: Ki Society, Yoshinkan, Tomiki, etc.
2. Ranks are in line with these organizations and not self awarded or awarded by groups with no one qualified to do so: soke organizations, karate organizations, etc.
3. Legitimate instructors should accurately document credentials on public media such as websites. This is not to be an ego thing but rather to establish credentials and accurately reflect what you have "earned". I know some don't like to do this especially at high ranks (opposite of what the fraudulent high ranks do) but not only should the rank be documented but when it was awarded and by whom or what organization. The rank should be verifiable through the organization. No excuses for certificates getting burned up in fires or awarded by someone nobody can find or some defunct organization. If you have legitimate credentials from a legitimate organization and it gets burned in a fire you can get it replaced. They should have a record of you anyway and it can be verified if you can't afford to replace it.
4. Senseis in legitimate dojos should be willing to display their rank certificates on a wall in the dojo if possible unless working in a YMCA or something like that. They should be willing to show and prove to students their rank and source without getting offended that someone asks. Usually, people with legitimate credentials do not have any problem with being asked to provide proof of their rank and its source-probably because they can.
5. Legitimate instructors should attempt to keep in contact and or at least know where their instructors are and actually should be able to name them. A good red flag is the instructor cannot remember who they studied with. If I earn a black belt with someone I should be able to remember their name-besides sensei. Their instructors should actually be people that are living or who have lived in the past and that this is verifiable. In other words, given the ease of finding people with today's technology, I should be able to locate and if desired contact these people.
These are interesting ideas John. I was thinking of a real way to implement them and I realized there is something like this in the religious world. As you know, television evangelists have about the worst reputation because of the scandals and money issues. Years ago, a few of them headed by Billy Graham formed the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability or ECFA. They set up a group to which ministries could join. The group has standards that every member must meet and they are audited and checked. Ministries then post the seal of the ECFA on their websites and literature indicating that they have been through a verification process and are legitimate and not charlatans. It's not a cure all because a lot of the public doesn't know about it but these guys have done good work and have made an impact. Someday, maybe someone could come up with a 501 (c) 3 like this for Aikido groups or maybe for all martial arts schools. Then you promote it and groups join it so they can display the seal of the group indicating they meet those standards. It helps educate the public too. You could get responsible and well known people on the Board of Directors. Their names would give the group some integrity and "gravitas". It's a big job and not a cure all but it would practically go along way toward solving the problem. The financing could be raised by small dues and the group could print brochures and contact major organizations etc. trying to get large groups of new members. The EFCA has been very successful using a format like this.
In religious circles, it is interesting to note which major ministries won't join ECFA. When you investigate, it's usually because the whole board is family or they pay themselves too much. That's the red flag the public is looking for.
Here's the website if you want to take a look at what they are doing. Could we do this for aikido or martial arts in general?

"It is the philosophy that gives meaning to the method of training."
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